Sharon Farmer

(b. 1951)

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Sharon Camille Farmer (b. 1951) was the first African American woman to be hired as a White House photographer and first female to be director of the White House Photography Office.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Farmer attended Ohio State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in photography. After graduating, Farmer began a career as a freelance photographer. She worked for the Smithsonian Institution, The Washington Post, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She documented news stories, political campaigns, cultural events, conferences, and portraits. Farmer also lectures extensively on photography and served on the faculty at American University, Mount Vernon College, and Indiana University.

A black and white photo of Beatrice Ferguson is standing in a yard.

Beatrice Ferguson, 97, 1991.

Photograph by Sharon Farmer. 

2016.137.1

Gift of Sharon Farmer, © Sharon Farmer

In 1993, Farmer traveled the world as a White House photographer for President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Among the many famous images she captured was the handshake between the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat and President and Mrs. Clinton witnessing the launch of the space shuttle Discovery with astronaut John Glenn. In 2004, Farmer was the campaign photographer for Senator John Kerry’s presidential election campaign. Farmer has also presented her work in exhibition at museums and cultural institutions nationwide, including: Art against AIDS, Gospel in the Projects, Twenty Years on the Mall, Washington, D.C. - Beijing Exchange, and Our Views of Struggle.

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Top image: Anacostia Park Community Day by Sharon Farmer, 1982. Gift of Sharon Farmer in memory of educators Winifred and George Farmer, © Sharon Farmer. 2016.137.2